Synchronicity (The Police album)

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Studio album by The Police
Released 17 June 1983
Recorded December 1982
Studio AIR Studios, Montserrat
Le Studio, Quebec[1]
Length 40:15
44:32 (CD and cassette version)
Label A&M
The Police chronology
Ghost in the Machine
(1981)Ghost in the Machine1981
Every Breath You Take: The Singles
(1986)Every Breath You Take: The Singles1986
Singles from Synchronicity
  1. "Every Breath You Take"
    Released: 13 May 1983
  2. "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
    Released: 8 July 1983
  3. "Synchronicity II"
    Released: 21 October 1983
  4. "King of Pain"
    Released: 2 January 1984

Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by English rock band The Police, released in the United Kingdom on 17 June 1983.[2] The band's most successful release, the album includes the hit singles "Every Breath You Take", "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", and "Synchronicity II". Much of the album's material was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence, which inspired the title and concept of the album. At the 1984 Grammy Awards the album was nominated for a total of five awards including Album of the Year and won three. At the time of its release and following its tour The Police were hailed as the "Biggest Band in the World".[3][4]

The album was number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the U.S. Billboard 200, and sold over 8 million copies in the U.S. Synchronicity was widely acclaimed by critics. Praise centred on its cohesive merging of disparate genres and sonic experimentation. Rolling Stone described "each cut on Synchronicity [as] not simply a song but a miniature, discrete soundtrack."[5] It has since been included on their lists of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties"[6] and the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[7]

In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In the 1983 Rolling Stone readers poll, Synchronicity was voted "Album of the Year".


The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence. Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also named Ghost in the Machine after one of his works.

The album marked a significant reduction in the reggae influences that were a part of the band's first four records, instead featuring production-heavy textures and liberal use of synthesizers that, at times, drove entire songs ("Synchronicity I", "Wrapped Around Your Finger"). The influence of world music can also be heard in songs such as "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in Your Footsteps".

As with their prior album, the basic tracks for Synchronicity were recorded at AIR Studios, Montserrat beginning in December 1982. The three band members recorded their parts in separate rooms: Stewart Copeland with his drums in the dining room, Sting in the control room and Andy Summers in the actual studio. According to co-producer Hugh Padgham this was done for two reasons: to obtain the best sound for each instrument and "for social reasons."[1] Padgham also stated that subsequent overdubs were done with only one member in the studio at a time. The overdubs were done at Le Studio in Quebec during January–February 1983.[1] During the recording of "Every Breath You Take", Sting and Copeland came to blows with each other, and Padgham nearly quit the project.[1]

The album was published in the UK and U.S. on both LP and CD in 1983, and on Super Audio CD in 2003. In 1989, it was published by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab as a remastered gold CD.


"Synchronicity I" starts the album off with a sequencer line that repeats throughout the song. Its lyrics include a term from "The Second Coming," "Spiritus Mundi" (literally "spirit of the world"), which William Butler Yeats used to refer to the collective unconscious, another of Jung's theories. "Walking in Your Footsteps" features lyrics concerning the relation between extinct dinosaurs and humans, and is followed by the jazzy "O My God". (The song recycles some lyrics from two earlier Police songs: "Three o' Clock Shit", which was never recorded on an album[note 1] but was widely bootlegged from live performances, and the 1981 single "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"). "Mother" features screamed vocals by Summers and a frantic guitar line reminiscent of Robert Fripp (with whom Summers had previously recorded), and "Miss Gradenko" is a song about a romance in the middle of a communist bureaucracy.[8] "Synchronicity II" features extensive use of audio feedback.

"Every Breath You Take," which begins side two of the record, is possibly The Police's best-known song, with Sting's vocals on top of a steady rhythm featuring picked guitar, strong bass, and controlled drumming. Originally, the song was what Summers called a "Hammond organ thing that sounded like Billy Preston." The guitarist came up with a more interesting guitar riff which became a distinctive part of the piece. The song, released before the album, went to number 1 on both the US and UK charts, aided by a black and white video directed by Godley & Creme.

"King of Pain" features a lyrical imagery and numerous effects and instruments, while "Wrapped Around Your Finger" uses subdued keyboards. "Tea in the Sahara," is a quiet, eerie song about three women who meet their death in the desert; the song is based on a story from Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky. "Murder by Numbers", originally the B-side of "Every Breath You Take," was added to the CD and cassette versions of the album, and has lyrics comparing political power to the development of a serial killer.

The album's original cover artwork was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, taken by Duane Michals.[9] In the most common version Sting is reading a copy of Jung's "Synchronicity" on the front cover along with a superimposed negative image of the actual text of the synchronicity hypothesis. A photo on the back cover also shows a close-up, but mirrored and upside-down, image of Jung's book.

The original vinyl release was pressed on audiophile vinyl which appears black like most records, but is actually purple or brown when held up to the light.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[10]
The Baltimore Sun 5/5 stars[11]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[15]
Smash Hits 9/10[16]
The Village Voice B+[17]

Synchronicity topped the album charts in both the UK[18] and the U.S. for 17 nonconsecutive weeks (interrupting the dominance of Michael Jackson's Thriller in the U.S.).

It won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

In 2013, the album Synchronicity reached No. 13 in BBC Radio 2's "Top 100 Favourite Albums", a poll voted by over 100,000 people. In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 50th greatest album of all time. In 2000, the Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums rated Synchronicity at No. 91. In 2005, Channel 4's 100 Greatest Albums ranked the album at No. 65. In 2010 Consequence of Sound composed a list of the Top 100 Albums Ever which listed the album at No. 37.

In 2003, the album ranked No. 455 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, while in 2012 Synchronicity was ranked No. 448; it was one of four of the band's entries on the list.

In 1989, the album was ranked No. 17 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 greatest albums of the 1980s".[6] Pitchfork Media's "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" ranked it No. 55. In 2006, Q Magazine placed the album at No. 25 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[19]

In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame compiled a list of The Definitive 200 Albums of All Time in 2007, listing Synchronicity at No. 119.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[20]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Sting, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Synchronicity I" 3:23
2. "Walking in Your Footsteps" 3:36
3. "O My God" 4:02
4. "Mother" (Andy Summers) 3:05
5. "Miss Gradenko" (Stewart Copeland) 2:00
6. "Synchronicity II" 5:00
Side two
No. Title Length
7. "Every Breath You Take" 4:13
8. "King of Pain" 4:59
9. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" 5:13
10. "Tea in the Sahara" 4:11
11. "Murder by Numbers" (Summers, Sting – bonus track on cassette and CD versions only) 4:36


The Police

Additional Musicians



1984 Grammy Awards

Category Title Nominated
Song of the Year "Every Breath You Take"
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Synchronicity
Album of the Year Synchronicity
Record of the Year "Every Breath You Take"


Year Single Chart Position
1983 "Every Breath You Take" UK Singles Chart 1[18]
Adult Contemporary 5
Club Play Singles 26
Mainstream Rock 1
The Billboard Hot 100 1
"King of Pain" Adult Contemporary 33
Mainstream Rock 1
The Billboard Hot 100 3
"Synchronicity II" UK Singles Chart 17[18]
Mainstream Rock 9
The Billboard Hot 100 16
"Wrapped Around Your Finger" UK Singles Chart 7[18]
Mainstream Rock 9
1984 Adult Contemporary 13
The Billboard Hot 100 8
"King of Pain" UK Singles Chart 17[18]


Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[41] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[42] Platinum 472,100[43]
Germany (BVMI)[44] Gold 250,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts) 175,000[27]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[45] Gold 15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[47] 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Though no proper album recording of "Three O'Clock Shit" exists, a demo recorded by the band Strontium 90 was eventually released on Strontium 90: Police Academy, with its title censored as "Three O'Clock Shot".


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  2. ^ "Police cancel all leave". NME: 36. 11 June 1983. 
  3. ^ "'Whatever we do, this will always be the seminal band' ". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2015
  4. ^ "Police play Shea Stadium". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2014
  5. ^ "Synchronicity". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Stewart Copeland's AOL transcript". 22 June 1995. 
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Synchronicity – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Considine, J. D. (19 June 1983). "Police's 'Synchronicity' full of challenging ideas". The Baltimore Sun. 
  12. ^ Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  13. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  14. ^ Holden, Stephen (23 June 1983). "Synchronicity". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
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  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (26 July 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f "The Police > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "40 Best Albums of the '80s". Q. London, England: EMAP (241): 84–89. August 2006. 
  20. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5. 
  21. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
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  25. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste". Archived from the original (PHP) on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.  Note: user must select 'the POLICE' from drop-down.
  26. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
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  40. ^ "Top Pop Albums". Billboard ("Talent Almanac 1985" supplement). 22 December 1984. p. TA-17. 
  41. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Music Canada. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  42. ^ "French album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select THE POLICE and click OK
  43. ^ "Les Albums Platine :" (in French). Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  44. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Synchronicity')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  45. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong. 
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  47. ^ "American album certifications – Police, The – Synchronicity". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 13 September 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH